Girl Scout products aren’t just in your local council shop anymore. We’ve seen the beloved green trefoil logo in the grocery store, at Fred Segal, and at Michaels, on everything from T-shirts to craft kits. And who do we have to thank? Karina Gee, whose hard work in overseeing each and every Girl Scout product builds brand awareness and communicates the Girl Scout mission to the masses.
As the manager of GSUSA’s national licensing program, Karina works with manufacturers and service providers who want to incorporate Girl Scouts into their products. She teamed up with Dairy Queen to create the popular Thin Mint Blizzard, and during our 100th anniversary year she built relationships with Nestlé and Build-A-Bear Workshop to establish unique Girl Scout products to commemorate the centennial. Karina manages all aspects of these relationships—formalizing contracts, reviewing product concepts and marketing tools and making sure licensees follow their contracts. She works with a number of GSUSA departments as well, including Marketing, Program, and Legal, to ensure that licensing relationships are successful and align with GSUSA programs and objectives.
Looking back, Karina did not follow a traditional path to licensing. After graduating from Wellesley College with a degree in psychology, she worked at a literary agency selling publishers rights to authors’ intellectual property. Not long after, she landed a job in the entertainment department of a children’s book publisher and quickly realized that the licensing work she did there was similar to her previous work, only on a larger scale.
These days at GSUSA, one of Karina’s greatest challenges as a licenser is expanding the perspective licensees have of Girl Scouting, from a narrow and outdated one (think “cookies, camping, and crafts”) to one that encompasses everything our organization does to promote girls’ leadership. Asked what she considers her greatest successes as a Girl Scout employee, Karina cites her work with Dairy Queen and Nestlé, where not only was she involved in the taste-testing process (yum!), she played a considerable role in developing the advertisements that accompanied the products. “It was gratifying for my colleagues and me to provide input that shaped how Girl Scouts were portrayed in the commercials—smart, business savvy, confident, diverse—because it’s how Girl Scouts are in real life,” said Karina.
Through her work, Karina hopes that Girl Scout-licensed products and commercials will catch the eyes of girls and families not yet involved in the organization, compelling them to think about our program—and to ultimately join us.
Kudos, Karina. Way to work toward a better future for girls.